Green Christmas shopping

G Christmas issue

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December is upon us and all the silliness that surrounds Christmas. Part and parcel of the end of year mayhem is a massive shopping spree to buy presents for everyone from the dog to your aunt’s partner’s children.

It’s often excessive, wasteful and in poor taste with regards to the message of anti-materialism preached by that Jesus fellow who started the whole festival.

And of course, the traditional view of environmentalism is all about reducing consumption. Most people have heard of the 3 Rs of environmentalism: reduce, reuse, recycle.

The very first R is reduce: that is, try not to use it in the first place; reduce the demand for it.

Yet, in the issue of G magazine that is hitting newsagents and supermarkets today, we talk about stuff you can buy for Christmas. At face value it sounds like an environmentalists’ nightmare.

But here’s the key thing: every product we feature is better for the environment than the conventional alternative. For example: washing power. You won’t see OMO in the pages of G, but you will see greywater-friendly washing powders that are available at your local supermarket.

The logic we have is that our society is caught up in consumption. We love to shop, we love to have new things, we’re all busy keeping up with the Joneses. Through G, we try to direct that consumption to products that are better for the environment.

We don’t say you have to buy them - we suggest ways of avoiding buying them. But if you are going to shop, G gives you options.

This is the very essence of consumer leadership.

Basically, consumer leadership is anything that inspires people to shop in a given way. There are plenty of immediate examples of mainstream consumer leadership: celebrity endorsement is used by advertisers to create consumer leadership.

And if you think you’re immune from such glamorous persuasions, think again. Have you ever bought a CD recommended by a friend whose taste in music you admire? Consumer leadership doesn’t always happen from Hollywood down. For the most part it is an organic, word-of-mouth process.

A study from the Victorian government on purchases relating to health care identified three key elements to what makes a consumer leader: trust, inspiration, and being a good role model.

For example, Pat Rafter has been chosen by Bonds to represent their underpants because we’d like to trust Pat (he seems like a good bloke), he looks good in his undies (inspiring us to hope we are/have as good looking a bloke), and he has the values Bonds wants us to believe it has (Australian, honest, likeable).

Often people’s drive behind purchasing decisions is about price or value for money. But at G, we are hoping to show some consumer leadership and change the motivation behind purchases away from price or reflected glamour to considering the environment.

Those elements of consumer leadership that I talked about earlier - trust, inspiration and being a good role model – apply equally to a magazine, as a Hollywood celebrity or a good friend.

G works very hard at being a trustworthy publication. We won’t write stories about how great our advertisers are, just because they’ve given us money. We review the products in the pages honestly, noting their failings when there are some.

We do a lot of research, even reading scientific, peer-reviewed papers to get our facts straight in the magazine.

The result is a magazine you can trust. You can turn to G for information and solutions to living a greener life.

Similarly, G aims to inspire people. We showcase beautiful images of sustainable homes and holiday destinations. The models in our magazine are having carefree, sustainable fun. Our recipes are mouthwatering. Our products are elegant.

We attempt to create a vision of green living as an contented, simpler way of life.

Lastly, G attempts to be a role model for greener living. Now, I am the first to admit that none of us is perfect. I’m not, and G is not. I don’t believe environmentalism is about a destination; I believe it is about making a commitment to a journey.

Luna Media – the publishers behind G – are 100 per cent carbon neutral. We use green power in our office. We have worm farms and bicycle parking and showers. We use 100 per cent recycled paper to create G. And it is important for us to walk the walk if we are to be a good role model for our readers.

It’s also important for us to show that we are not perfect in our role as role model. Becoming greener is a hard job. We need to show that even the best of us have guilty eco-sins and make mistakes and are learning as we go.

So why is G working so hard to become a consumer leader? Because conscientious consumption effects change. We believe in the power of the dollar. Through encouraging conscientious consumption, G is hoping, slowly, gradually, incrementally, to push manufacturers to create more environment-friendly products.

There’s another message here too. And that’s to you.

Just as G Magazine can be a consumer leader, so you can be.

People listen to word of mouth. Recommendations from you carry far more weight to your friends than any ad on television. If you are shopping green, tell your friends about your purchases. Tell them where you found the information. Tell them whether it’s a good product. Paint a picture for them about their greener life.

Together we can make changes in this world. We just need to show a little leadership.